NEW -YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY LAUNCHES
HISTORY RESPONDS TO COVID-19
TO PRESERVE HISTORY AS IT HAPPENS
Initiative Asks the Public to Donate Materials Related to the Health Crisis
in an Effort to Preserve History as it Happens
New York, NY, April 7, 2020—The New-York Historical Society, the oldest museum in New York City, is launching History Responds, an initiative to collect materials related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has transformed lives around the world. A longstanding program at New-York Historical, History Responds came to fruition during September 11, 2001, when curators began to collect items and mementos from downtown Manhattan. Since then, the program has preserved objects and documents related to marriage equality, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and Women’s March, among others.
Now New-York Historical is putting out the call for objects and paper/digital ephemera that document all aspects of the current crisis, including the heroic efforts of medical personnel; the plight of the victims; the effects on businesses, schools, and cultural groups; and the creativity borne of isolation.
“When the New-York Historical Society was established in 1804, our founders had just lived through the turbulent years of the American Revolution and recognized the need to preserve eyewitness evidence of their own historical moment,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical. “In that vein, we continue the practice of documenting history as it happens so that future generations will better understand the unprecedented times in which we are now living.”
New-York Historical’s Patricia D. Klingenstein Library is gathering paper ephemera that reflect the various elements of the pandemic and how people are dealing with it through flyers, postcards, small signs, small posters, application forms, emails, and print-outs of emails. The Museum division is collecting objects and images and the stories connected to them, including household items that reflect life under quarantine and social distancing measures; new products created by business and industry; artwork placed in public view; and items that represent community projects and initiatives. And the Education department invites youth to keep and share diary entries on their experiences with the coronavirus pandemic. Students can record their diaries in whatever form they would like—digital, analog, video, voice memo—and share them.
To learn more about History Responds and how to donate objects and papers, visit nyhistory.org/history-responds.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history. New-York Historical is also home to the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, one of the oldest, most distinguished libraries in the nation—and one of only 20 in the United States qualified to be a member of the Independent Research Libraries Association—which contains more than three million books, pamphlets, maps, newspapers, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings.
The New-York Historical Society is located at 170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY 10024. Information: (212) 873-3400. Website: nyhistory.org. Follow the museum on social media at @nyhistory on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr.
Ines Aslan Marybeth Ihle
New-York Historical Society New-York Historical Society
Image credit: Rainbow by Lizzy (age 4), Kew Gardens, Queens, photo by Leeka Murphy